[WORLD CUP 2018/22 BIDS] With Zurich's Bauer Au Lac hotel on lockdown and crawling with Secret Service and other security officials, FIFA executive committee members bunkered down for the night before they hear presentations on the 2018 World Cup and select the hosts of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. Bid committee members have been warned not to expect to get any sleep on a final night of lobbying and deal-making before the decision on the tournaments worth an estimated $5 billion is announced. The fact that the outcome of both races remained entirely uncertain only added to the high-stakes drama. Several scenarios involving the U.S. bid were circulating in the evening ...
U.S. wins ... The first is to ensure the defeat of Qatar -- whose candidacy is considered by many to be too risky -- FIFA President Sepp Blatter will orchestrate a deal to give the 2018 World Cup to Spain in exchange for the three South American members, close Spain allies, supporting the USA in the 2022 race against Qatar.
Qatar has a bloc of as many as 10 votes but could probably not win without the three South American members in that bloc.
U.S. loses ... Another scenario goes the other way. Blatter is believed to be concerned about how it would look if Spain-Portugal won 2018 and Qatar was named 2022 host, in light of the charges of collusion and the air of scandal that has surrounded FIFA, but Qatar represents the strongest case for a legacy bid so Blatter would work out an England-Qatar winning double.
Such a case is not far fetched. During Wednesday's 2022 bid presentations Blatter was clearly emotional to hear the powerful Qatari presentation that included this question from Sheikha Mozah, wife of the Emir of Qatar, to the executive committee: "I want to ask you a question: When is the right time for the World Cup to come to the Middle East?"
About the only thing that appeared certain was that some kind of the deal was in the works and it did not involve Russia. Prime minister Vladimir Putin appeared to throw in the towel when he told Blatter he wouldn't coming to Zurich to speak and complained of "unscrupulous competition."
While Spain-Portugal and England were now favored to reach the final round of voting in the 2018 race, there was no certainty about who would join Qatar in 2022's final round.
Qatari Bin Hammam was rumored to be trying to line up support to knock the USA out of the race in the first or second round by dealing extra votes to one of the other three competitors, South Korea, Japan or Australia.
It would be a bold stroke if successful but it underlined Qatar's fear of facing the USA in the final round.
FIFA executive committee (22 members)
Sepp Blatter (Switzerland)
Note: Blatter casts tiebreaking vote in case of 11-11 tie in final round.
Jack Warner (Trinidad & Tobago)
Chuck Blazer (United States)
Rafael Salguero (Guatemala)
Michel Platini (France)
Angel Maria Villar (Spain)
Geoff Thompson (England)
Michel D'Hooghe (Belgium)
Senes Erzik (Turkey)
Marios Lefkaritis (Cyprus)
Franz Beckenbauer (Germany)
Vitaly Mutko (Russia)
South America (3)
Julio Grondona (Argentina)
Ricardo Teixeira (Brazil)
Nicolas Leoz (Paraguay)
Chung Mong-joon (South Korea)
Mohamed Bin Hammam (Qatar)
Worawi Makudi (Thailand)
Junji Ogura (Japan)
Issa Hayatou (Cameroon)
Jacques Anouma (Ivory Coast)
Hany Abo Rida (Egypt)